Well, we’ve been very satisfied iPad owners for just over a year now so it’s a good time to look back and review. My intention is to dig a lot deeper than the usual gadget reviews and give a sense of what it’s like to have an iPad day in and day out for a year. The list is aimed at people who might be considering buying an iPad more so than people who already have one. And all of the points apply equally to the original iPad and the iPad 2. So, without further adieu, here are 10 things we’ve learned.
1. The iPad is the perfect digital library of the 21st Century. In the last century, people had rooms they’d call a library filled with physical objects. Look around and spot something of interest, grab it down off the shelf, put it back in place. Now we have it in digital form and the iPad, with its multi-touch screen, allows those same familiar physical interactions. Photos, emails, books, recipes, movies, maps, songs, web pages. You want to have it with you and easily accessible so you keep it on your iPad.
2. Corollary of #1: Get the most memory you can afford, preferably the 64 GB version. Of course, it’s more convenient to have all your stuff with you when you want it. But the flip side is also important: it’s an annoying waste of time trying to hone your vast digital song collection or photo library from your computer to fit onto your iPad. The more places you can check the “sync everything” box, the better. And syncing itself a slow train to bummersvile.
3. The iPad is not great for working on standard office software tasks like word processing and spreadsheets. The on-screen keyboard experience is okay, not great, but the processes to select text and move the cursor around are just plain bad. Moving documents back and forth from the iPad to another computer is also extremely treacherous because iPad apps have the nasty habit of eliminating or mangling formatting. Printing is also complicated or impossible, particularly when you’re on the road.
4. The iPad doesn’t like to sync and you find yourself syncing less and less. The original iPod connected over a firewire port that was super speedy. But Apple eliminated firewire syncing years ago and the iPad is stuck in the slow lane known as USB 2.0. Hopefully, Apple’s new super-fast Thunderbolt port will quickly make its way to the iPad. In the meantime, prepare to get a cup of coffee while your iPad backs up all its data, loads app updates and transfer your photos, songs and videos each time it syncs.
5. Battery life is insane. You will find yourself charging less and less.
6. The iPad is very personal, it’s not very multi-personal. There’s no way to set up individual accounts for different people on an iPad, which gets to be a drag after while when the device is being shared around the family. I’m not as taken with background pictures of puppies as my daughters, I don’t want 15 games on my first home screen like my son and I want to read my Gmail, not my wife’s, when I use the mail app. Still, the iPad is too fun and too huge not to share.
7. The iPad is less delicate than a laptop. We take ours into the kitchen when we’re making a recipe, for example, and just wipe off the occasional spill.
8. Great for multi-day trips, not great for out for the day tripping. The iPad is lighter and smaller than a laptop, sure, but it is not nearly light enough yet. It’s great to use sitting down but not in one hand and it doesn’t fit in a pocket so it can be a burden to carry around. And it’s too flashy and expensive to use in some places, like the subway.
9. The speaker should be much better. When you have the perfect, self-contained travel computer, it should be able to play music in your hotel room without add-on speakers.
10. We love the app store and installing new apps is simple. But the process of moving apps around, organizing them on multiple home screens and deleting the occasional dud are not intuitive or easy.